Ready for Release
Twenty ornate box turtles returned to the wild this week thanks to a partnership between Lincoln Park Zoo and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The release, which took place near Savanna, Illinois, was part of a long-running effort to restore this threatened species to the sand prairies of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge.
The released hatchlings came to the zoo last summer as eggs, which were incubated behind the scenes at the Kovler Lion House. After hatching, the tiny turtles spent a year growing under the care of the zoo’s animal care experts, giving them a “head start” that helps them thrive in the wild.
Small transmitters on the ornate box turtles’ shells will help scientists track the reptiles as they establish themselves in their native terrain. The data gained will help the project toward its long-term goal of establishing 100 turtles at Lost Mound Sand Prairie.